Bristol ‘too affluent’ for smart city cash

January 25, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News 

Bristol has lost out to Glasgow for the £24m Future City demonstrator, with the affluence of the region being a key factor.

“Glasgow has some quite extreme challenges – it has the lowest life expectancy of any city in the UK for instance – and the hope is that if we bring together energy, transport, public safety and health it will make it more efficient and a better place to live,” said Scott Cain, the TSB’s project leader for Future Cities, talking to the BBC.

That view was backed up by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. “With more people than ever before living in our cities, they need to be able to provide people with a better quality of life and a thriving economy,” he said. “From transport systems to energy use and health, this demonstrator will play a key part in the government’s industrial strategy and give real insight into how our cities can be shaped in the future,” he added.

Bristol made the shortlist of four for the demonstrator but the choice of Glasgow was a surprise, even though  it was the first UK city to win the smart city status from IBM in March 2011, and gained key experience on IT systems and sensors. Bristol’s Smart City programme was also launched in March 2011 with funding from the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change and in August 2011 it over

£300,000 from the EU for two projects as part of its Smart City Programme.

“Industry expectations have been overturned throughout this competition, and this result, too, will surprise many,” said Joe Dignan, Chief analyst for European Public Sector at market researcher Ovum. Initially, the smart money was on Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds + Bradford or Manchester to scoop the prize, given their level of preparation. However, only Bristol joined the shortlist alongside Glasgow, Peterborough and London. Peterborough was considered the wild card, while most felt London had already been given more than its fair share of the public purse in the lead up to the Olympics.

“Glasgow’s success reflects a global trend in the development of future cities being presaged by a major global event. Although it was considered the outsider in this race, its preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games was the catalyst to get the right people around the table to look at the performance of the city as a whole,” he added. ” There is no doubt that the judging process was objective and Glasgow’s bid excellent, but one can be sure that Westminster is happy to show its commitment to Scotland at the current time.”

The demonstrator will include better services for Glaswegians, with real-time information about traffic and apps to check that buses and trains are on time. The council will also create an app for reporting issues such as potholes and missing bin collections.

Other services promised by the council include linking up the CCTV cameras across the city with its traffic management unit in order to identify traffic incidents faster.

It will use analytical software and security cameras to help identify and prevent crime in the city and monitor energy levels to find new ways of providing gas and electricity to poorer areas where fuel poverty is a big issue.


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